New Zealand

Calibrating brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) occupancy and abundance index estimates from leg-hold traps, wax tags and chew cards in the Department of Conservation’s Biodiversity and Monitoring Reporting System

Abstract: The Department of Conservation has implemented a Biodiversity and Monitoring Reporting System (BMRS) that estimates occupancy rates and relative abundances of introduced brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) at a representative sample of sites on public conservation land. Leg-hold traps have been used to monitor possums in the BMRS, but wax tags and chew cards have logistical and financial advantages over traps.

Compliance with biodiversity compensation on New Zealand’s public conservation lands

This article assesses compliance with biodiversity compensation on New Zealand’s conservation land. Of the 261 Department of Conservation (DOC) concessions for commercial activity searched, only about 15% included compensation provisions. A sample of 20 concessions of that 15% suggests 68% achieve full compliance. Our results suggest compliance is influenced by factors such as habitat and activity type, protected area category, and whether a concession holder has pending concessions and/or renewals. Inconsistencies in compliance monitoring, enforcement, and reporting merit attention.

Preliminary assessment of the foraging behaviour and population dynamics of a cryptic population of the endangered New Zealand sea lion

The endangered New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri) has recently been confirmed as breeding on Stewart Island/Rakiura, southern New Zealand. This area is thought to have the largest number of sea lion pups born outside of the New Zealand subantarctics. However, the sparse distribution and cryptic behaviour of this population means known human threats and their effects on the population will be difficult to determine, limiting conservation priority setting and management.

How elevation affects ship rat (Rattus rattus) capture patterns, Mt Misery, New Zealand

There is a lack of information about how elevation affects the distribution of ship rats in New Zealand. In this study, ship rats (Rattus rattus) were captured in traps set along a 2 km elevational transect (455–1585 m a.s.l.) in beech (Nothofagaceae) forest and adjacent alpine tussock at Mt Misery, in Nelson Lakes National Park, from 1974 to 1993. A total of 118 rats were captured.

Assessing and comparing population densities and indices of skinks under three predator management regimes

Introduced mammalian predators threaten populations of endemic New Zealand skinks. Their effects on skink populations have been not often quantified on the mainland and are known primarily from skink population increases on islands from which mammals have been eradicated. Estimating skink population density with capture–recapture trapping is time-consuming and costly. Counting skinks in artificial retreats in specific weather conditions may be a useful and relatively quick way to index population density, but needs calibration for different habitats and species.

Tracking a small cryptic amphibian with fluorescent powders

The study of amphibian spatial behaviour provides key information for species conservation. Most commonly used techniques to track amphibians are either unsuitable for small species or fail to give sufficiently fine-resolution data of habitat use. We report on the use of non-toxic fluorescent powders to track the fine-scale movement of a threatened New Zealand frog, Leiopelma pakeka.

Land snail communities respond to control of invasive rats in New Zealand forests

While invasive rats are demonstrably inimical to indigenous vertebrate species, there has not been unequivocal evidence of benefit to invertebrate communities from management of these invasive mammals in New Zealand forest systems. The present study examined the response of land snail communities to intensive management of ship and Norway rats by sampling paired rainforest blocks, one block of which had been subject to intensive management of rats, while the other block had been without management of invasive rats and thus subject to ambient rodent infestations.

Dead birds found after aerial poisoning operations targeting small mammal pests in New Zealand 2003–14

In New Zealand, aerial poisoning with 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) bait is widely used for control of introduced small mammal pests in remote or forested areas. However this practice is controversial, partly because of perceived risks to native fauna, particularly birds. That perception originally derives from substantial mortality of some native bird species in pre-1980 control operations, which prompted changes in baiting practice to mitigate most of the risk.

Tracking invasive rat movements with a systemic biomarker

Invasive rats can be capable swimmers, able to cross substantial water channels of hundreds of metres to colonise islands. This dispersal capability puts at risk islands close enough to infested areas for rats to reach unassisted. When reinvasion rates are high, biosecurity surveillance on islands might be supported by source population control to prevent re-establishment. However, biosecurity surveillance can only detect reinvading rats when they arrive and the source of reinvading rats might remain unknown.

Effect of the addition of bird repellents to aerially applied 1080 baits on rat and possum abundance

One of the criteria for an effective bird repellent in a pest management context in New Zealand is that possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and ship rat (Rattus rattus) kills remain high where repellents are used in poison baits. Repellents were used in baits applied within different treatment blocks as part of a large aerial 1080 operation in November 2013 near Haast on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

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